IT’S MORPHIN TIME. I’m sure that joke has never been made in regards to Animorphs before, no way no how. Anyway, we are going to be talking about Animorphs #2: The Visitor today. Quick thing about the cover: This one is hand drawn where the other ones I have looked at are photos. As always here’s a link to my Twitter thread of live reactions.
The Visitor was released on June 6, 1996, right around the same time The Invasion was published. It was re-released in 2011 with an updated cover and some more current references which, boy, it needs it.
This book is narrated by Rachel. I like how it switches narrators. These books are supposed to appeal to all readers, so it makes sense that you want to switch around who is telling the story. You’ve got a cast, work with it! Anyway, we open on everyone being birds and doing bird things. Everyone is having a blast, except Tobias, who, if you recall, TURNED INTO A BIRD AND CAN NEVER CHANGE BACK. My biggest complaint with this book is that this is barely addressed. “Oh Tobias, must suck to always be a bird. Oh well, I’m gonna go eat some chips.” Poor kid.
While zoomin’ around, these dudes just start blasting. Like, straight up shooting at these birds. Rachel is a bald eagle and she’s more upset that they are trying to kill an endangered species than the fact that she could die. Get your priorities right, lady. They decide to divebomb these knuckleheads and legit steal their guns and beer. “MY BEER,” the teen cries, not at all worried that the very creature they were trying to kill now has a firearm. After discarding the guns, they go to a nearby bell tower to morph back. Man, do not read these books if you have an upset stomach. The way they describe morphing is legit disturbing.
You know the Nina-Dog in Full Metal Alchemist? That’s what it feels like.
Quick aside, what happens if the time runs out mid-morph? Are they stuck as a hybrid or do they finish the transition into whatever they are morphing as? Maybe we will get some answers.
While walking home, they discuss how the Yeerk pool in the school is closed off. They are trying to find another way, but are at a dead end. Rachel is close friends with Melissa, the daughter of the Vice Principal who is also a Controller. They bully Rachel into being a spy and try to get Melissa to help them. Melissa and Rachel have gymnastics together, but things have been strained between them for some time. Translation: She’s sus AF. Now, knowing what I know about Junior Fiction tropes, we can deduce that she is NOT a Controller, but K.A. is trying to make us think she is (spoiler: she’s not).
The best part of this book, hands down, is when Rachel is walking home from gymnastics in the rain. Some creeper tries to lure her into a van and she’s like “LOLNOPE” and turns into a GODDAMN ELEPHANT to chase him off. Pros: No more creeper. Cons: Her shoes are exploded. Luckily, VP Chapman and Melissa come to her rescue. She’s super tense the whole car ride because she’s worried they saw her morph. They apparently didn’t.
The WORST part of this book, hands down, is when Rachel calls her friends to meet up at the church to discuss what to do next. Her friends then start victim blaming her for walking outside in the rain and “Well, you should expect that if you’re walking outside”. I talk about it more in my tweet thread, but, damn, she needs new friends. ANYWAY, they plan to have Rachel morph into Melissa’s cat to spy on Chapman.
This leads to them standing outside of a Controller’s house, unmorphed, in the middle of the night. I just feel like this is a bad plan. My gut tells me that they should, oh, I dunno, not be close to the house? Doofuses. Tobias hawks out of there to find… sigh… Fluffer McKitty. Turns out, our boy Fluffer is up a tree. Rachel morphs into a shrew (another frightening description). I really like how K.A. writes the animal’s mind post-morph. Rachel just goes bananas as the shrew because it’s prey. Shrewchel is terrified out of her mind because of all of these big people and animals and we see that as we read. This also gives Rachel nightmares about being a shrew, which adds another layer to these morphs. How do they mentally affect our heroes? They eventually capture Fluffer and Rachel acquires him.
A few days later, after verifying the Fluff is out of the house, she morphs and goes behind enemy lines. Chapman goes into the basement and Catchel follows. Now, our good friend R.L. Stine was very clear about this. STAY OUT OF THE BASEMENT. Downstairs, she finds out that Chapman has a direct line to Visser 3 and that Chapman is a Yeerk called Iness 226. 226 threatens to expose Visser to the Council of Thirteen if they hurt Melissa. Who is that, you ask? Well, I have no idea. Visser then sees Catchel and orders 226 to kill her. He refuses because it would blow his cover. Visser then becomes enraptured by this tiny killing machine and spares her life. However, in order to strike fear into 226, Visser turns into a Vanarx, the Yeerkbane. The message is clear. “Succeed or I will eat you.” Got it.
After escaping the basement and discovering the Mrs. Chapman is also a Controller, she visits Melissa. Melissa is sad because she thinks that her parents don’t love her anymore. Rachel is like, “I’m going to kill EVERYTHING” and tells her friends what happened. They plan on going back, but only if Rachel will allow someone else to come with. Jake becomes a flea. A FLEA. He rides on Rachel’s back, without consent, I might add.
While Chapman is talking with Visser 3 for the second time, he accidentally kicks the Rachcat and she lets out a hiss. Visser is now convinced that Rachel is actually an Andalite (HUGE leap in logic if you have ever had cats, they follow you everywhere and get mad when they get tangled in your feet even though it is THEIR fault for doing it in the first place). She is kidnapped and put in a crate. Visser is like, “Bruh, you gotta kill Melissa,” and, suddenly, Real Chapman begins to fight back inside 226. Real Chapman wants to talk to Visser, who allows it. Then, Chapman is like:
“Yeah, my wife wanted to do this, so I went along, but I said ‘no’ to you getting my kid, so now I’m gonna kick your ass.” (I’m paraphrasing).
The Yeerk takes control again and carts Catchel off to the construction site. Rachel commands Jake to leave and get the others. Somehow, the group gets there in time and drives an earthmover into one of the Yeerk ships. Then Jake is like, “I’m a tiger now” and slashes up Visser 3. They run away. Then, the earth starts shaking because Visser turned into a giant rock monster (as one does). Somehow, Rachel escapes. The next day at school, she leaves a note in Melissa’s locker telling her how much her parents love her. The End.
A couple things before I sign off: The stuff with Melissa legit broke my heart. She felt so lonely and couldn’t go to anyone for help. Then, all that stuff with her parents almost made me tear up. Being a parent is awesome, but it also REALLY limits the stuff you can watch without crying. Also, who is the title referring to? Rachel because she’s visiting the house? The Yeerks? I dunno.
Anyway, that’s book 2. This one was honestly pretty boring. It felt like not a lot happened but there was a lot of explaining HOW nothing happened. Hopefully Animorphs #3: The Encounter is better. I’ll leave you with the lenticular, re-release cover which is just plain awful.